Blind Palaro athlete has clear vision for future

Joji G. Ordona
Blind Palaro athlete has clear vision for future
Maria Ellyza Espieras, who became blind after an accident, is among the young athletes seeking victory at the 2016 Palarong Pambansa

LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines – Hellen Keller once said, “One can never consent to creep, when one feels an impulse to soar.”

This inspires Maria Ellyza Espieras, a blind and orthopedically impaired 15-year-old, to continue her dreams. A first-timer at the 2016 Palarong Pambansa special games, the Sagay City, Negros Occidental native is very excited about joining the 100-meter dash, standing long jump, and goal ball.

Life-changing accident

It was in 2009 when Espieras’ neighbor played with live ammunition and it exploded. Shrapnel hit Espieras, leading to the loss of her eyesight, and her right hand.

It was a very traumatic experience for an 8-year-old girl who had just been crowned Little Miss Maria Lopez Elementary School that year and suddenly became blind.

“When I learned about the incident, I Immediately told her parents that I would take care of her in school,” said Virginia Repal, a teacher of the visually impaired at the Maria Lopez Elementary School – Sagay City SPED Center, who continues to be her mentor up to now.

Achiever since birth

When Espieras still had her sight, she was a contestant in the MTAP mathematics competition and excelled in that field.

After the accident, Repal did not separate Espieras from class. Instead, the young girl stayed on, guided by her teacher.

“Ellyza is an intelligent girl and I know she can cope up with the rest,” said Repal.

“I did not feel different in class. My classmates showed their concern and helped me a lot,” Espieras explained. 

She also joined and topped a quiz bee for SPED pupils from school, district, and division levels. In 2014, she became a regional finalist in the quiz bee.

Espieras eventually tried her luck in sports, excelling as well, and making it to the national stage. She never imagined that she could reach this far. 

Staying positive

It is Espieras’ faith that keeps on inspiring her to pursue her dreams.

Hindi ako nawawalan ng pag-asa. Iniisip ko na kaya naming gawin ang mga bagay kahit may kapansanan,” she said.

(I don’t lose hope. I always think I can still do things even if I have this disability.)

Espieras also wants to finish college and work afterwards.

As a Stevie Wonder quote goes, “Just because a man lacks the use of his eyes doesn’t mean he lacks vision.” –

More 2016 Palarong Pambansa stories:



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